Jo, PR Consultant

BA Theology, graduated in 2007

Jo is a PR consultant. To reveal expert advice from Jo, click on the questions below.

[Q] What are the day-to-day tasks when working in your sector?

[A] No two days are the same in PR so you could be doing many tasks, but most days will include: monitoring the news for client coverage, writing press releases, compiling media lists, research, updating contact databases, reading trade magazines, writing communications strategy documents, drafting presentations, brainstorming creative ideas etc.

[Q] Do I need specific experience to work in your sector?

[A] You don’t need specific experience to work in PR, although relevant work experience with transferable skills always looks good on a CV. However, you will definitely need to show an interest in current affairs and demonstrate that you can write well so humanities and other essay-based subjects generally go down well with employers.

[Q] What skills and qualities do I need to work in your sector?

[A] The main skills required are writing and research, but you also need to be able to multi-task and jump from one project to another quickly (especially if you work in consultancies or agencies rather than in-house) so time management is crucial. PR also depends to a great extent on relationships so social and interpersonal skills are key.

[Q] Do I need a specific degree to work in your sector?

[A] You don’t need a specific degree, and in fact some people find that having a degree specifically about PR, media studies or communications can be a hindrance rather than a help. But subjects such as politics or those based on writing are likely to be more use than science or maths.

[Q] What are the perks of being in your sector?

[A] The perks are that it’s really interesting work! There’s a lot of variety in PR and you get to meet and learn from senior business figures. Depending on your client base you can get to go to exciting events and travel to interesting places. It also doesn’t tend to involve working ridiculous hours on a regular basis so there’s generally a good work-life balance.

[Q] What are the downsides of working in your sector?

[A] The downsides are that PR isn’t the highest paid industry, and you can end up needing to work late nights and over the weekend if there’s a big issue that needs handling. In addition, you often have to work under a lot of pressure and juggle multiple projects at the same time which can be stressful.

[Q] Where can I find out which are the best companies to work for?

[A] As with many things, I’d suggest starting with internet research! Think about what sort of companies you’d like to work for, or what sectors you’re interested in – but if you’re starting out I would recommend finding an agency that has a varied client base so that you can get lots of experience and try new things. Not all PR companies offer internships or training schemes, so probably worth focusing on those that do as they will tend to be better equipped to help people starting out, and you can also read industry publications (such as PR Week) to get a feel for which companies do what sort of work.

[Q] Do I have to work in London to be in your sector?

[A] No, there are PR firms all over the country. However, most of the bigger firms are based in London because the biggest companies, most of the media and politicians are in the capital.

[Q] Where can I look for jobs?

[A] Look online, and read trade publications.

[Q] DOs and DON’Ts of applying for jobs in your sector:

DO – demonstrate relevant experience e.g. writing, research and time management.

DO – show that you are interested in current affairs and how the media works.

DON’T – assume that all PR people are like Samantha from Sex and the City – it’s not all about travel and perks and nights out!